Our little shop.

Renovating part of a very old civil war era barn. 

We needed a place for a work shop.  Since part of my folk's old barn seemed like a fairly good choice and was literally disintegrating from the ground up, we decided to save it and convert it for use with our flooring operation.  It is the space on the left (which is already spreading into the bigger space to right).  This picture was taken after quite a bit of work had been done.  The space is 30x14 and was probably built between 120-160 years ago.  It's a bit small but will do for now. 

After some work Now

In this project we:

- remove an old foundation and replace it with concrete tubes to support the existing timbers.

- Remove rotten walls & frame out windows & doors.

- dig several tons of dirt to create a level surface of the right height

- build a 4 ft. cement wall and various other small walls to reinforce an existing wall/foundation.  We tie new to existing by using rebar.

- build a concrete floor form and pour a 30x14' 6"+ floor.

- get & install used windows from Habitat Restore.

- put in new ceiling joists.

- completely wire & bring in single phase power.

- learn a lot.

WHAT WE WERE UP AGAINST...The walls of this part of the barn had sunk several inches because the brick foundation and wooden sills had almost completely disintegrated.  Essentially, the first challenge was removing the foundation and sills without destroying the building.   Tricks of the trade are hydraulic jacks, temporary support beams, concrete form tubes & crossed fingers.

Ugly picture but good demonstration of why the foundation & sills had to be replaced.


This is the side of the larger barn that we are going to work on.  The foundation wall is covered in dirt.   Dad (Wallace Baird) and I dug it out.

You can actually see the rotten sill after the dirt has been dug away. Click picture to enlarge to see rotten sill. 

Inside the barn.  The foundation was completely rotten all the way around. In the far lower corner you can actually see light coming in through a rotted wooden sill.

The inside wall.  The space is 30x14.  The hole you see is the back of Handy's stall.  The feeding trough in the corner is where I got the piece of wood for the swing in my yard.
Dad removing wood siding.  We saved the old oak boards to put back later.    Dad surveying project behind Freedom.We used a sawzall & circular saw and crowbar to cut out the foundation and the rotten part of all the boards.   Had to shorten the wall by 9 inches.  We used a hydraulic jack to lift up the building at this point.  Here, we have cut out the rotten foundation.   I only cut past the end of the rot, not further. Later - see below-  we "sistered-in" some boards to form a bigger "beam" from the new foundation to the ceiling.
Inside corner with hydraulic hand jack supporting doorway  and a  car jack holding up the corner.  We are concentrating on leveling the wall from the inside corner to the outside corner (pictured).

Locating & digging hole for tubular concrete form.  Plumb-bobs are vital for placement when you have to line up to existing structures.  We would dig down 18" to get below our regions frost line.  This plumb bob is marking the approximate outer edge of the concrete tube we'll pour.


Poured concrete pillar to support existing beams.   Notice plumb-bob used for locating rebar which needs to be centered under existing beam.   Rebar will go in hole drilled into beam that will be lowered onto it. 

Of course we use spacers to keep the beam off the cement.  Otherwise, the cement will whick moisture to the wood and rot it.  We generally use asphalt shingles as spacers. 

Inside view of same corner after we lowered the wall onto it's new support. (Notice shingle spacer).   You can see the "sistered-in" boards. From the inside corner to the outside corner, a distance of 14 ft, the wall had to be picked up 5 inches. In other words, the foundation collapse had allowed the building to fall 5 inches. The metal roof creaked and screeched as we re-bent it by jacking the structure.  That was cool!

The doorway & corner are supported so we're now moving down the entire outside side wall.

Good look at rotten sill on crumbling foundation to left.

Look Ma...Magic!  The wall is floating!!  How?  Actually, 2 tactically deployed hydraulic 2 ton jacks and a nice strong 6x6 oak support to the far left.  We feel like the magician pulling the tablecloth out from under the dishes!

Starting to feel pretty good about it thus far. Further on down side wall.  We are jacking the roof up about 3 inches every six feet. 

Freedom looks pretty confident about the deconstruction... but not nearly as confident at the reconstruction.

After completing the front & side foundation pillars, I started digging the floor out.  It was 18" too high in places.  I was hoping to use the backhoe in picture but it was too big for the space and I ended up having to shovel the dirt out by hand and removing it with a wheelbarrow.  This was days & days of hard work.    Remember, I'm moonlighting here.

At this point dumbie (me) thought I was almost done digging.  But...no... later I learned that I had to go about 8" further in most places.   More digging...

Honestly, the digging was my least favorite part. 

Demon dog & I used the laser level at dusk to determine how much more digging must be done. Looking out of the barn to a beautiful sky.
inside wall is falling in must build cement retaining wall
We wanted to shore up the back wall which is also the foundation of the bigger barn.  The old stones were falling out.   We built a cement wall to hold everything in.  We dug out a trench for where the wall will connect with our future floor.  We also put a bunch of rebar into the existing wall by using a masonry bit to make 6" deep holes and then insert the rebar.  Damn, Freedom looks fat.  Next, we built a form for the cement wall. This is before the end panel and the reinforcements were added to the form.
This is the concrete wall form with reinforcements.  The outer parts are nailed to 2x4 stakes that are buried in the ground.  We used scraps to cut these short sharp edged pieces.   Freedom is proud...and still overweight.  Dad talking with the cement delivery guy. We're ready to pour!
That is one freaking big truck! Daniel working the cement.
Proud Poppa! Autographed no less!

Click here to go to page 2.  Pouring the cement floor & more!

 flower box  sawhorse plans  
shed makeover         easiest stone walkway plans ever
 Renovating barn part 2 leaning book case shelf
multi-species cutting board     simple wood swing plans         

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